Scrap registry could help solve Tulsa's copper theft problem

New registry could help prevent copper theft
Posted at 9:52 PM, Sep 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-06 23:06:33-04

Copper thieves look out! A Tulsa City Council ordinance under consideration could get you locked up.

By state law, scrap metal dealers are supposed to enter all copper transactions, but the city says there's no enforcement to make sure they're doing it. That's why city councilor Karen Gilbert says she created a new ordinance.

Darkness falls on Tulsa streets more often than it should. City lights have been gutted of their wires, a way for thieves to turn a quick profit from the copper.

"We're going to track them down easier and faster and we're going to put a stop to it," Councilor Karen Gilbert said.

Copper theft has been a problem for years. The city now has a plan to get the lights back on. But with a limited crew, the work takes time.

"Anyone driving up and down the highway knows that it's dark out there and it's dangerous," Gilbert said.

A new ordinance requires scrap metal dealers to electronically log incoming copper.

"Those thieves take it to a scrap dealer, the dealers will have to register what is brought into them online," Gilbert said. "Our police officers will be able to keep up with who is bringing what in."

Darkness isn't the only result. "They don't understand what it's doing to other citizens," Gilbert said.

Churches and schools have had air conditioners stolen. The city itself says they're out millions.

"Right now we are up to $2.5 million having to spend out of our general fund," the Councilor said.

The hope for the new ordinance is to keep copper where it belongs, in pipes, lights and AC units. Gilbert says the council will vote on the ordinance next Wednesday.

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